It may not be a requirement of every teacher’s training, but many staff working with older pupils already benefit from the experience of colleagues at the other end of the spectrum – and vice versa.
Excelsior Academy became an all-through school in 2013, and now teaches pupils aged 3 to 19 on a single site in Newcastle upon Tyne. Executive principal Craig Taylor says a key driver of the change was to allow teachers in all phases to learn from each other – something that, before becoming an all-through school, was often hampered by “structural or timing obstacles”.
At Excelsior, CPD is carried out on an all-through, cross-phase basis.
“Differentiation, handwriting, phonics – staff at all levels come together to explore in a much more holistic and more rounded way than might be possible otherwise,” Taylor says.
The school is now taking this further, placing all the teaching staff into random pairs to ensure they are working across phases.
“We are certainly seeing a much broader understanding of what we mean by quality teaching and learning. The nature of our school is that we have a high proportion of English as an additional language learners; many of them come to us without any English whatsoever. Even in the secondary setting, the phonics teaching can be crucial,” Taylor explains.
He adds: “Without exception, they all embraced it and find it interesting. I think the difficulty for school leaders is breaking down the barriers that exist between the perceived primary and secondary phases.”